I have a confession to make. I don’t read a lot of craft books. I know, I know, but I’d much rather take a workshop, read an article online, or learn from my own mistakes.
When I was in high school, dreaming about becoming a famous novelist (now I’ll settle for novelist who makes decent money) I read A LOT of craft books. From those kinds that have very specific and rigid rules and worksheets to follow to the more memoir type ones, and many of them just made me feel like a failure.
The worksheets were too hard, the way to plot a story just didn’t work in my brain, the author just seemed like a pretentious jerk. The only two writing books that ever really resonated with me, books I will continue to read to this day are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (my absolute favorite) and Eudora Welty’s memoir One Writer’s Beginnings. Both were more about being creative through writing than HOW TO write, more about dealing with the doubts and struggles than a step by step plan on how to write a novel.
That being said, I’d heard a lot of really positive things about Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and since conflict is something I’ve been dinged for not having enough of in the past, and my library had a copy, I decided to give it a go.
Of course, I’m really glad I did. The first thing I like about this book is it does not set out to change your writing process. She talks multiple times about finding what works for you. This is no one size fits all, you must do exactly as I say craft book. Yay.
I breezed through the book in a day, making a chart for my Country Store WIP characters. I feel like I got a stronger grasp on my conflict, made it a bit more urgent, stronger definitely.
I usually have a good grasp of my characters and their motivations… The why and because, it’s always the but I struggle with. I’m not much of pen to paper plotter, but I can see myself making this chart (or some version of it) for my novels from here on out.
If you are writing genre fiction and haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it.